Downed Power Line in Your Yard? 4 Immediate Steps to Take

Updated November 9, 2021
Power lines running in front of houses
By nd700 - stock.adobe.com

Knowing what to do if a power line falls in your yard will help keep your home and family safe

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Downed power lines aren’t just a hassle—they’re also a hazard. How do you keep your home and family safe when a downed power line falls in your yard? And who is responsible for getting your family back on the grid? Learn what to do if a power line falls near your home.

4 Things to Do if You Find a Power Line Down in Your Yard

From lights to television, our electrical grid may very well be the beating heart of today’s world—but what happens when you lose power due to a fallen line? 

If you have the unfortunate experience of discovering a downed power line in your yard, don’t panic. Follow the four steps below to help keep your home, family, and pets safe—and restore power as soon as possible.

1. Survey the Area

You’ll need to quickly take stock of the area if you spot downed power lines near your home. Make sure there are no people or animals near the line, but don’t try to approach or touch the line yourself. Do not use a stick or any other object to touch or move the power line, as electricity can travel through both conductive and nonconductive materials. 

According to the Salt River Project (SRP), you should aim to stay 100 feet away if a wire has touched the ground. This would equate to the length of two semi-trucks and helps reduce the risk of being shocked or worse.

2. Look for Signs of Fire

You should also look for signs of fire caused by electrical sparking. Inside your home, a downed line might have caused a power surge great enough to potentially overload your electronics, which is also a fire risk.

3. Get a Safe Distance Away

If you notice a downed power line, your best bet is to stay as far away as possible, while checking to ensure the area is clear and there is no fire.

If you’re in your home, keep an eye on the scene from a safe distance. If you can keep an eye on the line from the window, then remain inside until the power company has shut off the current.

If you are outside, SRP recommends that you shuffle (don’t walk) in order to get to a safe distance. Keep both feet on the ground to help minimize the risk of electric shock.

Similarly, if you are in your car, stay there if you can. Your vehicle will be the safest place for you until the power company has shut off the current from the main line, as your car’s tires will help to conduct the current down and into the ground.

4. Call the Power Company or 911

Calling 911 or the power company is something you should do immediately after seeing a downed power line. If you can do any of the steps above while also calling for help, that is your best best. 

Your power company will need to cut the power at the source to prevent fire or electrocution. After that’s done, you’ll be free to move about the area and go about getting the lines repaired.

Who Is Responsible When a Power Line Falls?

When a power line falls, it will be your power company’s responsibility to repair and raise the line again safely. They will reconnect the wires to the electrical grid and to your home’s attachment point. From there, though, it’s up to you. 

You will likely need to bring in a licensed electrician to repair any damage that may have been done to your home’s wiring. This is usually an emergency service call for your electrician, because most power companies will not restore service to individual properties until the necessary repairs have been made by a certified professional electrician.

How to Prevent a Power Line From Falling in Your Yard

Tree fallen on power line
By patty_c / E+ via Getty Images

Downed power lines occur more often than you might think, but understanding the conditions that can put your electrical wires at risk will help you prepare. Inclement weather, of course, may easily bring down power lines. From wind and rain storms to winter ice storms, your lines simply may not withstand the punishment.

Trees can also be a hazard. If your trees have grown into your wires, they could be a shock or electrocution risk, and you could be at a greater risk of a downed line at some point. Trees, especially if they are unhealthy, can easily topple in heavy winds, while ice accumulation can bring down limbs. And with them may come the wires that have grown into them.

However, one of the best ways to deal with downed power lines is to try to prevent them in the first place. If you notice that your trees have grown into your power lines, it’s a good idea to give your local power company a heads-up. 

If the tree is on your property, you will probably be responsible for dealing with the problem. But reaching out to a professional tree trimmer will likely be worth the time, money, and peace of mind it’ll bring you and your family.

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